MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun: Mario Kart — Nadin

One of my favorite games of all time is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart is a classic racing game where 12 players (either real people or CPUs) race around a track by accelerating, breaking, and steering their vehicle. The goal of each player is to finish the race as quickly as possible. There are a few mechanics that stand out to me as making Mario Kart especially fun.

Tricks and haptic feedback

A Mario Kart player (as Waluigi) performing a trick in mid-air

One of the most satisfying parts of playing Mario Kart is doing tricks while mid-air. To perform a trick, players must shake the controller or press a button at the exact right moment when their vehicle leaves the ground. Successfully performing a trick will both provide visual feedback (a fun trick pose and speed boost flames) and haptic feedback (controller vibration). This feedback mechanic creates a Sensation aesthetic since both the visual and haptic feedback speak to the players’ senses. Haptic feedback is also present in other places in the game, such as drifting or getting a speed boost (seriously, feeling that controller vibration gives me a dopamine hit like nothing else). 

Multiplayer mode

Multiplayer mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Another core mechanic of Mario Kart is multiplayer mode (both local and online). Beating others at Mario Kart by blasting them with a blue shell is much more satisfying if they’re one of your friends rather than a CPU, so multiplayer mode elevates the aesthetic of Competition. Playing with friends also leads to a Fellowship aesthetic since we can sympathize with our friends’ losses and practice together to get better. Finally, although this definitely isn’t one of the main goals of the game or a common play style, I actually use Mario Kart as an opportunity to catch up with friends who live far away by video chatting while we race (this happens pretty regularly, too)! 

I play Mario Kart with far-away friends very often 🙂

Collecting trophies

I’ve collected every three-star trophy in Mario Kart!

Every cup (set of 4 races) in Mario Kart comes with a trophy that players can collect. To get the gold trophy with three stars (which is the best possible trophy), players need to get 1st place in all 4 races. Being able to collect all the three-star trophies is important to many Mario Kart players (myself included — I spent a significant chunk of my winter break working towards this), and it adds an additional element of Challenge to the game (besides the obvious obstacle course that is the race itself). 

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